RPM Season – Time to Upgrade Your DAW?

We’re nearing the end of January and that means it’s nearly time for the RPM Challenge 2018 (write and record an album in the 28 days of February). But if you’d like to do it on a shiny new platform, there are plenty of options…

Live Up to Expectations

For the past few years, my RPM albums have been created primarily in Ableton Live and Pro Tools, but I’ve actually not used Live very much in 2017 at all – mainly because I finally upgraded to Reason 9, which is now a fun and fully-specced DAW that no longer needs to be ReWired for recording purposes.

However, this year’s RPM Challenge coincides with the upcoming release of Live 10 (slated for Feb 6). If you buy Live 9 before then (at a 20% discount) you get a free upgrade when 10 is released, so that sounds like a good option for anyone interested in a Live upgrade around about now.

CDM got their hands on a pre-release beta version last October, and they provided an interesting summary here. It seems like there are a whole host of minor UI design and workflow improvements (many ported across from other DAWs) which probably need to be experienced to be appreciated, but there are a couple of items which look particularly interesting – the new Wavetable synth and the new Echo effect unit.

I had been planning to do my next album based on reverb/delay effects anyway, so this seems like a timely addition. Two other effects are also added – Drum Buss and Pedal – which should add further Ableton-style colour to the mix.

Twist of Logic

If you’re sticking with an Apple solution, then there is a new Logic update to dig into – Logic Pro X 10.4. This is actually a free update to owners of the previous version, but does contain one standout feature – Smart Tempo. This allows you to record a live take without a click, and the DAW will adapt and match to your timing variations automatically. You can then opt to keep this tempo signature or snap it in to a more rigid timing structure. There are also a few new effect options that should be fun to poke around in.

Final Reason

As mentioned in a previous post here, Reason 9.5 brought a major update last year: the ability to include VST instruments and FX. For years, Reason was a fairly streamlined stand-alone music production package that fell short of being a true DAW because of the lack of ability to record and arrange audio tracks. Once Record and Reason were merged, this disadvantage disappeared, but Reason was still very much self-contained – no third-party VSTs allowed. Now that the doors are open, however, Reason might be worth a revisit…


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